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12.26.2006

its gonna be too dark to sleep again 

as it has now inevitably become tradition in our household (three years in a row means it qualifies), the downstairs bathroom clogged up and completely overflowed yet again, making this the seventh time total since we moved into this residence a couple years ago.

when i say that the house is flooding, i’m not talking about katrina style buried under several feet of water type doom, but i’m also not saying it is some easily dismissable affair. finally, exasperated with the whole thing, i took a bunch of digital pictures to illustrate to our landlord (and to you guys) just how terrifically awful these situations are.

again, no matter how many plumbing "experts" have surveyed our water system, every single one of them only applied at best a few stop-gap measures to tide things over for a while. essentially, it’s like putting a band-aid over a bullet wound – sure, the bleeding will be held at bay, but the internal hemorrhaging is still going to kill you eventually.

if you really aren’t the squeamish type, feel free to go have a look-see at the new flickr album i made of images from this latest travesty. the yack of the beast can be seen here.

the cause at this point is pretty much anybody’s best guest, because not a single damn person can figure out just precisely what the dealio might be. some of the plumbers have suspected that the root structure of neighborhood trees have broken through the decaying clay pipes, and that eventually they grow enough to effect some major blockage. a few others thought that perhaps our sewer main is getting slowly closed off heart attack style, with various solid wastes building up as plaque along the walls of the pipes until hardly anything can get through.

my own theories are a bit less orthodox, as i am becoming more and more convinced that our home is haunted by some spirit that really has it in for toilets and interior plumbing altogether. maybe it’s the ghost of a roto-rooter guy, having long ago drowned in a miserable tide of swill, or maybe this house once belonged to a man that soiled a plumber’s marital relations by making time with the handyman’s wife.

all i know is, somebody was taking a shower upstairs this morning, and a few moments after they began, most of the water that was draining out of that tub was coming right up out of the toilet downstairs. oh, but it’s not just fairly clean shower water. no, no. that would be too pleasant. instead, a rather furious mixture of toilet tissue, human waste, and other rather unpleasant and extremely foul smelling items force their way up into the unassuming porcelain chamber. well, see for yourself in the pictures. thankfully, none of that garbage actually left the toilet bowl *this* time, as it has been known to in the past.

however, every towel in the house by now is sitting on the floor outside my room, sopping up the dank fluids that came on up like ah bubbling crude. those clothes can’t even be thrown up into the washing machine in the garage to get cleaned, either, because for some un-intelligent reason, every pipe in the upstairs of the house (except curiously, the master bathroom toilet and shower stall – they apparently have a different connection, or simply just don’t really go anywhere) passes through the drainage pipes for the downstairs bathroom before heading out to the main line. simply *running* the washing machine further exacerbates the problem, as all of the drain water from that appliance just ends up spilling back out onto our bathroom floor, beginning the cycle of suck all over again. the same goes for the garbage disposal in the kitchen – may the deities have mercy on whosever soul attempts to put more than water down our kitchen sink, as they will come to the frightening realization that any food particles that aren’t annihilated by the whirling blades of justice in the disposal end up being crammed with pressure through the drain pipe of my bathtub.

yeah, yeah. i don’t mean to go on and on about this shitty situation, but as i am of the obsessive compulsive mindset, and an extreme germophobe too boot, every time this happens i get sent into a terrible panic attack and my anxiety goes through the roof. my co-workers are already well aware of my curious mannerisms, since i’ll don latex gloves simply to change out the trash bags in each of the cans around the store or use napkins to pick up debris off the floor. i refuse to touch the handles of brooms or mops without suitable hand coverings, especially when the head on the mop at work falls off the handle (it’s a shitty mop), and i have to re-attach it.

of course, after having worked in the warehouse of a grocery store several years ago and being in charge of emptying out, cleaning, and maintaining an industrial size waste compactor, i’m not all too surprised that i have a slight neurosis when it comes to filth. but to be honest, i was always overly cautious even when a child, as it wasn’t uncommon for me to wash my hands twenty to thirty times a day.

and yet, my bedroom is a complete and utter sty. for somebody as anal about messes, germs and bacteria as i am, it is a wonder how i am able to tolerate my room at all. maybe i don’t, and just refuse to clean it all up in an effort to avoid the problem. or maybe it is just that i am that incredibly lazy. whatever the reason, there is only so much floor space that is actually still visible at this point, as i abandoned sleeping in there long ago, the deflated air mattress that i had brought in for support has been reduced to a storage area for yet even more of the crap (thankfully, not the stuff from the bathroom) that has steadily accumulated in my room. i’m reaching the point where i am half tempted to just shovel everything on the floor onto a pile outside, and set fire to the whole mess.

but on to more cheery, rosier topics. christmas was excellent in our family this year. it was a nice, quiet affair, with just the five of us hanging out for the majority of the day. there was roast turkey, mashed potaters, home-made cranberry sauce, stuffin’, sweet potatoes, snow peas, a peppermint and a pumpkin pie, and lots and lots of gifts.

i made off with some cool hauls – a new razor, a car charger for my cell phone (since i’m fairly bad about re-charging my phone), some books by neil peart (who, as well as being the most baddest ass drummer ever, is also a very eloquent novelist), and the fourth season of newsradio on dvd.

oh yeah, and candy. i loves me the candy. along with gold chocolate coins and a chocolate santa, mom picked up pez dispensers and giant six packs of pez bundles from the pez museum in burlingame. the day was spent watching the copy of life aquatic that i got for mom (she loves the movie, and i up to that point had not seen the entire thing all the way through), the pee-wee herman christmas special dvd that dad and i both bought for mom last year and had yet to be opened since then, and later on in the evening we watched our governator in his perennial holiday classic, jingle all the way.

dinner was served at around five, and we lollygagged on having dessert until we had overcome the food comas from the huge meal. as my parents began fading into evening naps and my brother took off for a friend’s house to deliver a few gifts, i sat back and began reading one of the new books i had got, this one about the experiences that neil had while touring american on motorcycle while on the road with rush.

before heading off to bed, caught an episode of west coast choppers where they were assembling a bike for bill murray that was caddyshack themed, which was to be sold at an auction to benefit a mobile urgent care unit and that bill eventually bid a hundred and fifty grand on.

not quite as serene as last year, when the evening was capped off by a freak thunderstorm while i sat back and read yet another neil peart book that i had received that christmas as a gift. similar enough of an end to the day though that i was satisfied and content.

now i gotta go clear out the space in front of my closet, and then *empty* my entire closet so that the plumber who is currently attempting to solve our issue can access the crawl space under the house. oh, and i gotta do all this in thirty minutes before i have to head off to work. i’m trying to not allow my mind to dwell on the knowledge that this dude’s gonna be hauling dirty equipment through my room and making an even bigger mess out of things. fucking eh, eh?

bleh.



  • 12.18.2006

    i know she wants more than a party 

    this post would have been written sooner had i not been spending the last two days of my three day weekend customizing the hell out of my new dell computer. even though i was at work on friday and couldn’t sign for the delivery, ups still gave me the option of showing up at their warehouse in san bruno to pick it up at 9pm on friday night.

    so far, i have it just about set the way i want it. there are a couple remaining applications i have yet to install onto it, but for the most part, i am getting near to the point where it feels truly like my own computer and not a drone sent out from a factory.

    the rundown on the specs:

    she’s got:
    * dual-core AMD 64-bit processors running together at around 4.2ghz
    * 4GB of ram – yeah, that’s right. 4 gigabytes. i went all out on this.
    * 300GB hard drive – originally i was planning on purchasing a 750gb drive to slap in here, but since there isn’t any physical drive space left in it, i’m probably gonna hafta make myself a dedicated raid array tower, which i’ll probably shoot for around 1.5 terabytes in storage space (i’ll definitely need it when i begin working a lot more with digital video, especially the uncompressed high def variety)
    * 256MB ATI radeon 1300 pro – already tested out the high dynamic range lighting option for half-life 2 lost coast… and it looked fucking orgasmically gorgeous
    * 20" widescreen flat panel digital display

    additionally, i went out to fry’s yesterday after church and bought a 540watt battery back-up supply to plug the computer into. i figure that i may as well do all that i can to protect my investment here from the same fate that my last desktop computer met, namely having the power supply and video card blow up at the hands of a nasty power surge. i gotta wait another twelve hours before the battery system finishes charging up for the first time, after which i can plug it in a socket in my bedroom and hook up everything to it. until then, i’m not chancing things by leaving it on all the time.

    programs like photoshop and after effects launch in no time at all. the extra memory really does make an amazing difference, recalling the joy i felt the first time i got a system with what was at the time a huge amount of ram, 128megs back in `99, and how fast version 4.0.1 of photoshop loaded and executed changes to images. i’m sure that cs3 or whatever future version of photoshop that adobe cranks out will probably render my system obsolete, but for now, i am quite thrilled at having a lot more power at my fingertips.

    i did actually take a break from enjoying my new system on saturday when we went to go pick my brother up from the airport. his flight home from college was a good three hours late, and while hanging out in the terminal, dad, the other eric and i checked out a book store just off to the side of the security check-in. i found it rather disturbing that the display table of books in the entrance of the shop right next to the x-ray machines were all about the september 11th attacks, the war in iraq, and the modern age of terrorism. that’s a bit of a mixed message, if you think about it. any of those topics spoken aloud in an airport will instantly flag you as suspicious and certainly attract the attention of security, yet you can buy books right there in the terminal that deal with the exact same subject matter without raising any ire.

    which led me to wonder what would happen if al queda or some other terrorist organization ever threatened to hijack aircraft using weapons that were stitched into the lining of their garments which were undetectable by x-rays or other scanning devices. given the knee-jerk reactions of those branches of the government designed to "protect" the average citizen, would this mean then that clothing would be placed on the list of banned items on flights?

    hey, i bet a year ago, if you told people that you wouldn’t any longer be granted the 'luxury' of bringing bottled water onboard a plane, they would think you to be a total loon.

    generally while i’m not one to naively believe in global warming one hundred percent based only on the facts that al gore and his ilk have been all too happy to be spreading about, i do have to acknowledge that there is obviously some screwy climate action going on lately. at a time when the east coast has been unseasonably warm for this time of year, we here in northern california are bundling up with a rather brisk thirty two degree winter’s night.

    essentially if it started to rain again, it would likely either come down to us as hail or sleet, or even more remotely, snow. two years ago, a week before christmas, it began snowing on a sunday morning, totally shocking the entire bay area, even though it only lightly dusted the peninsula. it was still enough to get the point across that this is not the normal weather we are accustomed to.

    i’m rather mixed on the whole debate. there has been more than a wealth of information provided by those taking posts on both sides of the argument, almost to the point where there is slightly too much to process and interpret correctly. when doctors started putting eggs on the list of extremely negative foods and then removing them almost on a yearly basis, i rapidly lost faith in anything that anybody who claimed to be an "expert" happened to say, regardless of what the field of topic is or even how reputable the person is. global warming is no exception, and while i am obviously no creditable source of information regarding it, i still exercise a huge amount of skepticism about the whole thing.

    after hemming and hawing about the decision for nearly three months now (actually, it’s really due to my simply not having any free time to have done it before), i finally signed up for a flickr account and have begun posting images there. in fact, you can check out my brand new purty computer, which i am of course using to put this blog post together on. i suppose that a link would help, eh?

    here ya go: dante’s flickr account

    huzzah! now go and comment on my pictures, damnit! i need mad props if i am gonna conquer the flickr world.

    in the meantime, i’m gonna go re-rip all of my cd’s at a higher bit rate in anticipation of eventually buying a new iPod sometime next year, especially if i end up getting part-time hours at the local apple store and can work the employee discount thing.

    three posts so far in december... i must be going mad!



  • 12.12.2006

    rewritten by machine on new technology 

    dude, i’m getting a dell.

    while i totally cherish and adore my laptop with a love that a computer and a man can never speak aloud, i have become increasingly anxious about trying to push my portable too far. a lot of what i do computationally lately requires a massive amount of power and puts out a significant dosage of punishment on hardware, which in turn makes me feel like an abusive bastard when asking my good friend to do all that i have requested.

    stuff like working with hd video and incredibly large image files (we’re talking about 3gb+ photoshop documents that need five minutes alone just to open, never mind the amount of time any amount of manipulation can take) has become a bit of a burden for my beloved hp, and so i finally broke down and got a dell credit card.

    i had been kicking the idea around the past few weeks, especially since i have been solely using the laptop as my primary computer for the last year now. the older desktop that i have still works, but ever since the previous video card installed in it went all hiroshima on me, that system has had numerous issues. mostly it just hard locks up at random, either five minutes after booting or after up to four days of running effortlessly.

    usually when it comes to computers, i’ve for the most part settled for second best. my hp laptop has been the first computer where i went for the ultimate in what was available at the time, and so far i have been most pleased with it. thusly when i ordered my dell, i decided to spare no expense. i maxed out every single possible option for the system i am getting, so that i won’t have to worry about trying to do too much from the get go.

    also in the past, i usually have steered towards building my own system by hand in order to have full control over what components it has, and how everything is configured. embarrassingly, i could probably recite the bios settings for every custom computer i have built up to this point. what made a dell so attractive was the fact that i could apply for credit through dell, meaning that i don’t have to pay for everything on this computer right up front. my closet is filled with unused components and system hardware that was purchased in earnest with the intent that someday, i would build the ultimate computer that would bow to my every whim. sadly, that day got delayed so much that most of the money i invested in the technologies that still sit in their packaging was poorly spent, as nearly everything that i have yet to use is more than obsolete at this point.

    not too mention, for some reason, the 20” digital widescreen monitor option was curiously $50 less than the packaged deal 19” standard definition screen. incidentally, should i choose so, i can hook up an hd tuner box to the screen, and use it as a flat panel hd television. tell me that isn’t totally boss.

    originally my new computer was supposed to be ready by the fifteenth and delivered between the nineteenth or the twenty-third. immediately after placing my order, i realized that with the holiday season in full swing, the chances that i would actually take receipt of this system would probably be greatly delayed. wrong. i got an e-mail today stating that it has already been shipped, and this evening ups called to inform me that it will be delivered on friday. the only hitch is, somebody has to be present in order to sign for it, and i work from 7am until 3pm. however, the delivery window is until 7pm, so hopefully i will be given the opportunity to call ups and either schedule them to make a return visit that night, or i can go and pick up the packages from their delivery center.

    the fact that i have this saturday, sunday, *and* monday off from work makes me more than excited, as i essentially have a three day weekend completely free to spend pimping out this computer and configuring it as i desire.

    so yeah. you just read a blog post by a geek totally getting wet off of the prospect of a new computer on its way. go you. or you didn’t, either way. i posted something, and i’m making more of an effort to blog a bit more often, so you and i both win there.

    i likely imagine that the next post will be written on the new computer. keep that in mind when you check back and see my next entry.

    by the way, i am totally naming it "the x dimension."

    w00t.



  • 12.05.2006

    far from the hills of the sea-swelled carolinas 

    tonight as i drove home on crystal springs road, a long, meandering path that circumvents a fair amount of civilization and offers a nice patch of isolated forest as a trade-off in exchange for the added amount of time it takes to get from one end to the other, the moon was out and full, with a sky so clear that practically every constellation could be easily identified, and i was able to shut my headlights off for a few moments, forging along whilst guided only by the illumination of the moon and far away stars.

    it was definitely a serene moment in an otherwise curious day.

    started off with me having a fit of dreams that even now, many hours later, are still bothering me to a slight degree. well, perhaps not bothering. that might be the wrong word.

    intriguing me, would be more like it. while normally my dreams are so vividly realistic that i tend to confuse them for reality at times, these snippets of a dream were only vague, foggy images that presented themselves with deeply intense feelings. instead of being a visual dream, it was more of an emotional experience.

    in between the sight of a ship laying on the floor of the ocean, my eyes peering at the stern end of a great ocean liner’s rudder and half of a propeller buried in thick mud, i sensed the voices and deaths of numerous individuals. the dream kept surging at me in very much a wave fashion, with each tidal approach proceeded by a period of time where i awoke, confused and disoriented, after which i would lapse back into sleep and this strange vision would continue.

    towards the end of the dream, before i finally did wake up for good and forced myself to get out of bed, i came to realize that the images i was seeing in my mind were those of the rms titanic as she has been depicted in deep sea dive photography of the shipwreck. i hadn’t really been consciously thinking about titanic, it felt more like a post-hypnotic suggestion from all the banners i had seen up in the city on sunday advertising the artifact exhibit in town on display at the metreon. i’ve had a few paranormal experiences before in my life, but this one was very intense. there was definitely a feeling of despair and fear, as if the lives that were lost were calling out to anybody that could hear, and when i awoke i didn’t really know what to make of it. even as i sit here now, i’m still puzzled as to what that had been all about.

    when i got into work this afternoon, under the assumption that the first part of my shift was going to be learn how to count out, assemble, and organize the tips, i discovered that the store manager had completely forgotten sometime between when the schedule was made and today that i had being assigned to do that, and already had asked somebody else to handle them. instead, i was supposed to take care of something that he also forgotten i had done not but three days ago. so, that was a bit strange, but at least i scored a good parking spot right out in front of the store.

    the rest of the evening was fairly non-descript, save for my fantastically botched attempt at asking a gal out. she has frequented our store a lot at night lately, usually to sit and study or read a book, and i had thought that generally she was sending me a couple specific signals that she was single and that i should give it a shot. stuff like making sure that i was checking her out whenever she walked by (which isn’t hard by a long shot – she has an incredible body), or her shy act while expressing interest in me whenever i rung her up for a drink. in fact even tonight, when she came in with a group of guys, and i began wondering if one of them was her boyfriend, during the small talk at the register after her friends had left and she ordered a tea, she made it suggestively clear that she doesn’t really have a boyfriend at the moment. the way that she said it was a bit misleading, as if she was almost silently implying that she was wondering why i hadn’t made a move already. what she neglected to tell me at the time was that she has a long distance type thing going on, a fact i didn’t come upon until finally getting up the nerve to ask her out later on in the evening – although as you read on, mayhaps you might believe as i kind of do that that may have just been a line, due to the circumstances under which this information was made available to me.

    as my friend/coworker kelly and i discussed over doughnuts after closing up the store, i like to think of myself as having a bit more courage when it comes to initiating something with the opposite sex, but i have noticed that whenever a woman i have never met before comes into the store, i’m generally very chatty and flirty, and with women that i have known for a while, it seems that i become very self-conscious around them and have a bit of a tougher time making anything happen. which definitely fits the pattern of the last several women that i have gone out with, in fact most if not all of them. i had only known them for very short periods of time, or had just met them, and was a bit more confident in approaching them and just chatting and flirting.

    anyways. i totally screwed the pooch with the choice of approach i had settled on. as she was leaving the store, having finished her drink and study, i asked her over to where i was standing at the bar, and casually dropped the bomb. it was a pretty bad bomb, because as soon as i said what i had, i instantly regretted my choice of words, which, while not terrible, were far from being nearly as suave or chill as i had originally planned them.

    i’m not all that torn up about it, but i am a bit disappointed in myself for having been such a tard with how i went about doing things. i’m old enough and have had enough experience to know better, and to think that i really thought at the moment that that was the best that i could have done annoys me slightly.

    oh well. just felt like you all would benefit from reading the follies regarding my pathetic attempts to score a date. there are still a couple other women that i know that i have been thinking about pursuing, albeit now with a totally different approach as far as making my move is concerned, given the frank lesson that i re-learned tonight.

    as previously stated before at some point on this blog (don’t ask me when, as i don’t exactly recall the specific post), my life is very much dictated by and focused upon music, and lately i have been checking out the group decemberists, a band that is being promoted through the music service that plays in our store. their sound is pretty interesting, as they somehow manage to pull off a very british feel to their material (at least, in my opinion), despite hailing from the state of oregon, and their lyrics are definitely something to devote attention to. pay particular regard to the song ‘yankee bayonet (i will be home then),’ as it probably is one of the few modern pop songs i am aware of to deal with a relationship torn by the american civil war, as the protagonist has already fallen in battle and left behind a widow and child. the poetry to the words is really quite stunning, and the tune itself is annoyingly catchy.

    in addition to them, i have also declared myself a zero 7 fan, becoming prey to their songs a few at a time. so far, ‘home,’ ‘red dust,’ and ‘warm sound’ have got me occupied. while i usually have rush loaded into the cd player in my car, i have begun creating a series of bizarrely random mix discs to listen to. anything is pretty much game, from phil collins and genesis (‘cinema show’ is the best non-rush progressive rock piece i have discovered so far), to fleetwood mac, devo (‘girl u want’ has an awesome beat), boz scaggs, talk talk, soul asylum (gotta rock the ‘can’t even tell’ after work in homage to clerks), marvin gaye (get my motown on), zeppelin, dressy bessy (the name is dumber than hell, but their stuff is pretty sweet), sting, jullian lennon (hey, the guy had *a* hit), and hall & oates (the undisputed masters of blue-eyed soul). my musical tastes lately have been oddly eclectic to say the least.

    upon arriving home, my garage door opener remote began wigging out on me, triggering the door to move anytime i merely touched the casing on the damn thing. our garage door doesn’t work properly anyways; anytime the temperature drops below sixty, which is fairly often since the san francisco bay area is notoriously a bitterly frigid climate to live in, the opener struggles anytime you want it to open, and simply gives up multiple times, halting the door at various different heights and forcing us to play a game of hitting the button to make it reverse direction, and then immediately pressing it again to make the door start upwards again, this time with the assistance of somebody physically pushing the fucking door up until there is enough clearance to get a car through.

    it has been a point of contention in our family, as my parents aren’t all that thrilled that i usurp the garage for my car (the back window on my vinyl top won’t zip up anymore, and is cracked in several places anyways, making my vehicle a perfect nesting ground for any stray feral animal whenever my car is parked out on the driveway), so they don’t really consider it a pressing issue that requires any attention. given that i usually work closings, and that by the time i get home the temperature has dropped to about thirty five degrees at night in the winter time, i’d say that removing the hassle of me having to get out of my warm car in order to push open a door that has a device specifically designed solely to do just that is more than enough reason, but i have yet to convince my parents of this.

    alright. time for me to go sleep so that i can wake up in a few hours to do this whole ‘life’ thing all over again.

    except this time, i’ll think twice about how i work the mojo on the pretty ladies that stop in for coffee.


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